Talon Voice | Speech to Code | #Accessibility

Talon Voice Tutorial

 

Good Day Everyone!

Today I want to bring to you all a software I found of use several months ago while battling idiopathic neuropathy (now healed). For about three weeks in March, I could not type without significant pain during my internship.  At the time, I thought it was Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and assumed stretches would help. They did not. The pain continued through to September of 2019 (my nerves are about 95% healed as I am typing this now).

My friend Naomi Saphra, a PhD student in language cognition and computing, recommended Talon Voice to me. Talon Voice is a software (and community) that allows programmers to operate their computers just by speaking. They can move their screens around, code, and play video games. I remembered from my time at the Recurse Center, that Naomi was unable to use her hands, and would often go into another room to build her projects through speech. Her first symptoms of neuropathy occurred during an internship at Google several years ago. She gave me a lot of advice, including the neurologist that diagnosed her (and eventually me) at Weill Cornell. I don’t want to delve too deep into what the majority of 2019 has been like for me as I plan to post a Youtube video about it, but for about 10 months this year I was battling a chronic pain condition called small fiber neuropathy. Essentially, the nerves in my body were dying, causing 24/7 pain from head to toe, loss of hand coordination, fine motor movements and gait by the summer until September..after $10,000+ worth of blood work. In the end, it ended up being a simple fix of vitamin B1 supplement. My diagnosis was Celiac disease (gluten allergy), Beriberi syndrome (B1 deficiency- which if undiagnosed leads to death in 20% of cases), and L-carnitine deficiency. How I got neuropathy was either from fasting too much or malabsorption of vitamins from asymptomatic Celiac (or both). All in all, I am grateful to be alive and healthy again. No more MRIs/EMGs/Blood draws/Depression/chronic pain forums or talks of MS/Fibromyalgia from my neurologists.

Although my case appears to have been a simple fix, many other cases are not. During my journey I have met many, including Naomi, who’ve had this condition or others’ like it, for several years. 1/3 of neuropathies have no known cause. This is why a software such as Talon is valuable, as it allows users to progress in their careers, until they find a cure or manage their pain better. Repetitive Strain Injuries seem to be the most common for those in the Voice to Code community. Some only end up needing Talon for a few months to a year or two. Even after many of them have improved, they still utilize hand typing and voice simultaneously, stating that it is even faster than one or the other.

All in all, there is a need for technologies such as Talon. Unless you’ve dealt with chronic pain or know someone who has, you’ll never fully understand the relief/joy of knowing that you can still live a relatively normal life with accessible tools and software. That you can dream again, and have a future. Science and Technology are amazing; and now is a great time to be alive. Today, accessibility can be coding with voice, and tomorrow with our minds.

When you get the chance, definitely visit the website, Naomi’s blog and join the Talon Slack community. The software is open source and everyone is friendly.

 

Helpful Links

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-05588-x

https://talonvoice.com/

http://nsaphra.github.io/post/hands/

 

*To maximize benefits of Talon, invest in Tobi (eye tracker) and Dragon (speech recognition).

 

Twitter: @colorfulcodes

Instagram: @colorfulcodes

Email: codescolorful@gmail.com

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